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(2009), PG-13 [R-13*] (1hr 36min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
August 14, 2009
August 17, 2009

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2009), PG-13 [R-13*] ... "It's called 'making love' isn't it?"

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Offspring Entertainment
Distribution (US): Warner Home Video
Director(s): Burr Steers
Producer(s): Jason Barrett, Jennifer Gibgot, Keith Goldberg, Mark Kaufman, Adam Shankman, Dara Weintraub
Written by: Jason Filardi
Cinematography/Camera: Tim Suhrstedt
Music: Rolfe Kent
Film Editing: Padraic McKinley
Casting: Lisa Beach, Sarah Katzman
Production Design: Garreth Stover
Art Direction: Tom Reta
Viewed on Warner Home Video DVD

This film analysis is sponsored by the generosity of E&HP.

The year is 1989. Seventeen year old Mike O'Donnell (Zac Efron) is enjoying the life of a popular basketball star. Mike is playing for the Hayden Warriors. At tonight's game a scout from Syracuse (Chris Valenti) will consider Mike for a full scholarship. Everything is bright and promising. Mike is "wicked nervous" about tonight's game because of the scout from Syracuse but he is ready and on fire for the game.

Then along comes Mike's girlfriend, Scarlet (Allison Miller) standing court side looking lachrymose. In spite of barking from Coach Murphy (Jim Gaffigan) Mike dutifully trots off court to Scarlet who, after claiming everything is "totally copacetic", reveals to Mike that she wants to end their relationship because having a hometown honey would only hold him back and keep him from the greatness the future promises for him. But there is more to Scarlet's remorse.

With a stumbling gait Mike returns to the court to start the game. Scarlet is tearful as she walks off the court and out of the gymnasium. Though now at a distance from her, Mike leaves the game to run after Scarlet. Here is a turning point in Mike and Scarlet's lives. Mike commits on the spot to marrying Scarlet and forfeits his college and b-ball future just for her ... and for their on-the-way baby. Sidebar Note: Here the filmmakers subdue the color and make the picture noticeably grainy to conjure the desired emotions in the viewer. After decades of practice, filmmakers are experts at generating the target emotions. They do it by the truckload. Not only with picture and dialogue but with music and sound effects. That is one of the strongest ways by which films influence.

Mike and Scarlet were in love. And they were about to be parents but yet out of wedlock. That cannot happen unless... Sex is love? Part of the show addresses out-of-wedlock teen sexual intercourse as "It's called 'making love' isn't it?" But did the writers add that sex is not love but is a tool and servant of love? No. Did they add that love is a great deal more than sex? No. Did they add that we are to be masters of such drives and not slaves to them? [Col. 3:5] No. Remember folks. This film is rated PG-13 meaning it is, by the MPAA, fit for your 13 year old children, right? Fortunately, the MPAA does not have the authority to say whether a film is fit for your kids. You do.

Don't all 13 year olds have the experiential maturity and coping skills to handle gratuitous sexual irresponsibility in film? No. As Dr. Nelson, head of a university psychology department and Dr. Gilliam, a practicing counselor agree with me it would be unusual for even a 16 year old to be able to fully separate fantasy from reality or to be able to fully anticipate the consequences of his/her actions: that such skills usually do not plateau until the early 20s. But yet we keep throwing at, we keep allowing others to throw at our 13 year old kids such value-threatening assaults on morality and ethics in and as "entertainment."

Carefully and quite skillfully the writers made sure "abstinence" was mentioned, just to appease the Bible thumpers I'm sure. The writers also made certain the viewer heard that "love" is the baby from sex ... while passing out prophylactics in the classroom ... without parental knowledge or consent. But as would be expected of modern entertainment for teens, the noble mentions were little more than background noise in comparison to the density of the total sexual content of 17 Again.

None of the sexual content in 17 Again is particularly vulgar or pornographic as might be expected of a R-rated film but there are so many items of sexual hint and nature that the magnitude of all the little flip-offs at morality and decency made the Sexual Immorality (S) content equivalent to the magnitude of the same area of many R-rated films. Indeed, the influence of a plethora of moral firecrackers can be more morally influential than a few vulgar bombs. 17 Again is another example of the loading or weighting of content copiously with "lesser" issues of assault on morality and wholesomeness to give the final product the "feel" of a more severe content. See our R-13 publication for more information on this loading or weighting technique.

Just a little more about the sexual irresponsibility this film encourages by example. God made all sexual intimacy outside of marriage sinful. But within a monogamous marriage intimacy is not only beautiful it is a duty to the spouse. Even the Bible gets rather racy about sex but only between a married man and woman. God has reserved all matters of human sexuality to the husband and wife. Indeed, any sexual contact (including visual), conduct or activity outside of a monogamous heterosexual marriage is sinful. No exceptions. No debate. Please remember that I did not write the Rules. The Father of the One who spent three days in Hell so you and I would not have to spend one moment there did.

For 18 years Mike has been blaming Scarlet (Leslie Mann) for all his woes -- a spinoff of him trashing his scholarship and basketball career to marry Scarlet. Scarlet ha had it and is divorcing 35 year old Mike (Matthew Perry). Mike pines for the good ole days when he was a star basketball player and star love of Scarlet. Mike is thoroughly dissatisfied with his life with the exception he is to be promoted to Regional Sales Manager for Wyatt Pharmaceuticals ... at least that is what Mike is led to believe. (Note that one of the "prescriptions" made by Wyatt Pharmaceuticals is 'Coitilux'.) But Mike's boss, who is years to Mike's junior and has been with the company almost two years, throws another pill in the cocktail of bitter pills in Mike's life. Wendy (Collette Wolfe), who has been with the company for two months is given the RSM job instead of Mike who had been there 16 years and had better numbers than anyone else. Wendy was, of course, much more "cute" than Mike and the boss's obvious interest in Wendy was expressed by the boss's less-than-professional gaze at her ... uh ... attributes. Much the same "attributes" as the entire staff who, except for Mike and the boss, are women. Young women at that. Isn't there a pattern here? Mike reacted in a hostile manner to not getting the promotion and now has no job.

Now on top of Mike being kicked out of his house by Scarlet he has no job. Scarlet is pursuing divorce because Mike blames Scarlet for all his woes and miseries for 18 years. Even 17 year old daughter Margaret "Maggie" Sarah O'Donnell (Michelle Trachtenberg), who is the teen version of Mike and Scarlet's "love" while still in high school, is in favor of dad leaving. Mike's son Alex (Sterling Knight with a little less hair than his Chad Dylan Cooper character on Sony with a Chance) does not seem care either.

As if things could not get any worse, millionaire Ned Gold (Thomas Lesson), Mike's best friend since first grade whom Mike spent much of his teen years sticking up for, takes Mike in and shelters him. Ned is of another breed of character indeed. Ned is a liver and lover of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and just about any film, cartoon and game. Described by his hopeful, Principal Jane Masterson (Melora Hardin) as a dork, the Ned character seems to fit all definitions of that term.

Once settled in Ned's crib, despondent Mike visits the old High School and reminisces over a photo of himself with his basketball team. As Mike gazes at the awards and pictures of his history at Hayden High School, behind Mike appears a janitor-looking, wise-sounding sage (Brian Doyle-Murray) who had a trip for Mike ... a trip back to 17. But in age only. The calendar does not change.

Now that Mike is 17 again he has his life to live all over again. So he thinks. Mike makes the best of the best situation and does what he can to make good the wrongs he had done to his family without them knowing he is still dad and husband. How in the world could Mike accomplish this? By Ned becoming "dad" and Mike becoming "Mark", his son. And the story goes on .......

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - 62 out of 100
Most of the violence in this film is demonstrated by the school bully, Stan (Hunter Parrish). Mike exhibits a threatening action to his boss. A couple times people experience a hefty fall. Mike and Ned go through a rather lengthy episode of swinging blades at each other in more of a slapstick comedy skit than serious endangerment though Ned does swing an axe at Mike and plants it deeply in a house door. And there is another rather lengthy sequence of fighting of a more serious nature. No matter how slight some of the violence may appear it is still violence and God is not at all in favor of us filling our minds with violent settlement of conflicts. [Prov. 16:29]

Impudence/Hate (I) - Zero out of 100
Sixteen times someone utters profanity, 8 of them by teens. [Luke 17:2, Col. 3:8] Tormenting is occasionally used to intimidate smaller, younger characters. Maggie is quite rude and disrespectful toward her father. [Eph. 6:1 - 3, Col. 3:20, Exod. 20:12] Social verbal warfare abounds in places. [Prov. 22:11] The modern classroom is portrayed as a gaggle of impudent kids rather than a system of education and learning. [1 Peter 5:5] Open urination is used as a cinematic device also. [Eph. 5:4] Reckless driving with endangerment seems to be a standard for movies for kids who are just learning to drive or are about to. As with the total number of items of assault on morality and decency, the items of impudence and/or hatred found are not individually all that ugly but there are so many of them that the content in this investigation area earned R-equivalence. [1Pet. 3:10]

Sexual Immorality (S) - Zero out of 100
Likewise are the items of sexual immorality of the "lesser" kind but are also so frequent as to equal in magnitude the same area content in many R-rated films. Of particular noteworthiness is the sequence of the cheerleaders. The camera spent a great deal of time from near the floor behind the cheerleaders, exposing their underwear which were not of the leotard type but of the standard white flimsy fabric. Indeed, by camera angle the viewer was forced on the rearward lower half of the cheerleaders most of the time the cheerleaders performed their routine.

One might think from this discussion that the observer went out of his way to notice such details. Let me assure you it is not because of any interest in those kinds of details but that the details were so freely and openly displayed that anyone will notice them -- I suspect that is the intent. Other instances of sexual nature include all the innuendo and anatomically oriented comments. Efron participated in an inordinate display of bare chest with raised arm with copious display of underarm hair. If you think your daughters do not notice such a display, my own 14 year old daughter said with smothered laughter and hand over her mouth to her sister during a similar display in a TV program "Did you see his underarm?" And in another film even I remember a wife with her friend in the kitchen saying to her bare-chested husband "Go put on a shirt or [friend] will never be satisfied again." [Mark 7:21, Gal. 5:19, 1Cor. 7:9, 1Ths. 4:1 - 7]

There are so many items of the sexual nature, again each of them of the "lesser" kind, that even to summarize them here would require too much space. Please look to the listing in the Findings/Scoring section for a complete accounting of the findings in this investigation area.

Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 62 out of 100
Mike, as a teen, grabs a beer. Stan gets drunk. And adults imbibe social alcohol a couple times. That is all. But that is enough ... and enough is too much. I agree with the American College of Physicians.

A 2002 study by the American College of Physicians (ACP) revealed that adolescent exposure to drinking in and as entertainment undeniably leads to abuse of alcohol among underage viewers. The finding entitled Relation Between Parental Restrictions on Movies and Adolescent Use of Tobacco and Alcohol reports that of 4544 youths from grades 5 through 8 of fifteen Vermont and New Hampshire middle schools (90% of the youths were under fourteen years old) only 16% were completely restricted from viewing R-rated movies. Within the ACP study population, the prevalence of having tried alcohol without parental knowledge was

  • 46% for those with no viewing restrictions
  • 16% for those with partial viewing restrictions
  • four percent for those with complete viewing restrictions.

    The researchers selected R-rated movies because they assumed R-rated movies typically present more drinking than movies of other classifications. This assumption is no longer true. The researchers were not aware of the matter of R-13 proven by this ministry in 2000 with which Harvard University researchers agreed four years later. The bottom line? The focus is that the influence of adolescent exposure to drinking (and smoking) in and as entertainment is undeniable regardless of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) classification. [Eph. 5:18]

    Rather revealing of the influences of the entertainment industry wouldn't you say? And emboldening children to sin with drink in and as entertainment screams of violating Luke 17:2.

    Offense to God (O) - 41 out of 100
    Fourteen times someone abuses God's name but none are with the four letter expletive. [Duet. 5:11] Divorce proceedings are demonstrated [Mal. 2:16]. Unholy powers are portrayed to make a man young again (shape-shifting). Spiritism is embraced for most of the latter parts of the film.

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
    There were no murders of suicides in the entire 96 minutes of this film.


    If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.


  • Col. 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: [Mortify: nekroo {nek-ro'-o} - deprive of power, control, be master of rather than slave to. Members: melos {mel'-os} - a member of the human body given up to immoral sexual activity. Upon the earth: while living on the Earth. Fornication: porneia {por-ni'-ah} - illicit sexual intercourse. Uncleanness: akatharsia {ak-ath-ar-see'-ah} - in a moral sense, the impurity of lustful living. Inordinate affection: - pathos {path'-os} - lust. Evil concupiscence: epithumia {ep-ee-thoo-mee'-ah} - desire, craving, longing for what is forbidden. Covetousness: pleonexia {pleh-on-ex-ee'-ah} - greedy desire to have more. Idolatry: eidololatreia {i-do-lol-at-ri'-ah}: the worship of false gods, including the "god" of lust and inordinate desire].
  • Col. 3:5 Paraphrased using Strong's definitions: Deprive of power, control and be master of rather than slave to members of your body given up to immoral sexual activity while living on the Earth: illicit sexual intercourse; the impurity of lustful viewing/living; sexual lust; desire, craving, longing for what is forbidden; greedy desire to have more, which is the worship of false gods, including the "god" of lust and inordinate desire.
  • Prov. 16:29 A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good. [The issue is the violence, the 'way that is not good' no matter how "small" or "justified" it might seem, and its effect on the observer. "A violent man" can be a man or woman or child, the act of demonstrating violent behavior/action whether for good or evil OR the violent behaviors/actions themselves. Such exposure can and does embolden the viewer into aggression, especially youth. It took years for American professional health agencies to finally affirm, probably without knowing it, that which God told us in 1 Cor. 15:33 below. See also Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children: Congressional Public Health Summit for more information. Further, God speaks darkly of violence 56 times in the Old and New Testament of the KJV.]
  • Col. 3:8 But now ye also put off [rid yourself of] all these; anger, wrath, malice [kakia: ill-will, desire to injure, wickedness, depravity, evil, trouble, not ashamed to break laws, etc.], blasphemy [blasphemia: impious and reproachful speech injurious to divine majesty], filthy communication [aischrologia:foul speaking, low and obscene speech] out of your mouth.
  • Eph. 6:1 - 3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and thy mother, which is the first commandment with promise. That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
  • Col. 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
  • Prov. 22:11 He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.
  • Exod. 20:12 Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
  • 1 Peter 5:5 Likewise [in humility as the elders who have charge over you], ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud [huperephanos {hoop-er-ay'-fan-os}: an overweening estimate of one's means or merits, despising others or even treating them with contempt, haughty], and giveth grace to the humble.
  • 1Pet. 3:10 For, Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.
  • Eph. 5:4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
  • Mark 7:21 For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, ...
  • Gal. 5:19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; ...
  • 1Cor. 7:9 But if they cannot contain [exhibit self-control, be continent], let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. [This verse applies particularly to the premarital sex between Mike and Scarlet.]
  • 1Ths. 4:1 - 7 Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his [or her] own body [which includes control of drives, touching, seeking, exhibiting, lusting (even after images), promiscuity, etc.] in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; [Be master of your body and urges, not a slave to them.] and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish [unforgiven] men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
  • Eph. 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. [Since "drunk" is methusko {meth-oos'-ko}: to intoxicate; make drunk; to get drunk; become intoxicated, "wine" can be any intoxicating substance including illegal drugs or abuse of prescription drugs. The issue is do not abuse the body by intoxicating it [1 Cor. 6:19]. Though it is not a sin to drink, it is a sin to get drunk OR to influence to get drunk OR to drink in defiance such as underage drinking.
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain. [Vain is shav {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity, such as an expletive. With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or responsible discussion is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name or title. So, trying to excuse such expressions with "I was talking to God/Jesus when I said that" will not work with Him.]
  • Mal. 2:16 "I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, ...

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, 'The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    17 Again (2009) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - 62 out of 100
  • threatening action
  • implied suicide
  • falls
  • action violence
  • attack with blades with defensive reply
  • long sequence of fighting
  • bully causing pain to torment
  • hit in the face with fist
  • reckless driving

    Impudence/Hate (I) - Zero out of 100
  • 14 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary, eight of them by teens
  • tormenting, repeatedly
  • adolescent rudeness to father, repeatedly
  • social warfare verbal jabs, repeatedly
  • classroom disrespect
  • urination
  • tattoo on teen
  • reckless driving with endangerment of many

    Sexual Immorality (S) - Zero out of 100
  • crude pose
  • camera angle to force viewer on rearward lower half of cheerleaders, repeatedly
  • teen cheerleaders flashing underwear, repeatedly
  • pregnancy by teen intercourse out of wedlock
  • talk of erection
  • rude gaze, repeatedly
  • talk of female private matters
  • crotch hit, repeatedly
  • male anatomical reference
  • attention to male privates
  • innuendo re: intercourse, repeatedly
  • cheerleaders lifting legs, holding them up exposing their crotch underwear to the crowd
  • teacher comment to teens to excuse giving in to sexual drives
  • insulting by calling people an intimate female accessory, repeatedly
  • implication of tape being yanked off male anatomy
  • public display of affection on school property during school hours, repeatedly
  • public talk of male anatomy size to insult
  • talk of sexually inappropriate behavior
  • teaching sex and birth control in high school: "...prepare you for safe sex NOW"
  • attempted seduction by "peacocking"
  • crude maneuver with posterior
  • sexual innuendo re: affair between teen boy and adult woman
  • teen boy and girl making out, repeatedly
  • teen boy squeezing adult woman
  • teen boy's hand on adult woman's hip
  • high school teacher passing out prophylactics to unmarried teens and without parental knowledge OR consent
  • sexual come-on with crude comments, repeatedly
  • teen girl offering sex to a teen boy
  • crude maneuvers toward girl
  • planning cohabitation
  • talk of boy-girl break-up because the girl will not have intercourse
  • girl aggressively pushing herself on a boy, obviously trying to seduce him
  • insulting a girl because she wouldn't give sex
  • girl attempting to seduce boy
  • girl rubbing boy's chest under his t-shirt while supine
  • teen girl in skimpy two-piece bathing suit on a boy's shoulders with her legs wrapped around his neck and her crotch against it
  • flash side male nudity at a mixed party
  • teen boy kissing a mother
  • female privates innuendo
  • vulgar cheer moves

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 62 out of 100
  • booze
  • drinking
  • teen with beer
  • teen drunkenness

    Offense to God (O) - 41 out of 100
  • 14 uses of God's name in vain
  • divorce proceedings
  • unholy powers and event, repeatedly
  • shape-shifting (becoming young again)
  • embracement of spiritism, repeatedly

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
  • none noted

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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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